Harlow stepped virtually through dozens of exchange terminals throughout the valley. She was casing the exits, checking proximity to police stations or to known front businesses belonging to her various competitors. The one thing she wasn’t checking for was security cameras. Those were everywhere, and unavoidable.
A loud metallic creak behind her indicated someone was entering the shipping container she was using as an office. She swiped away the virtuals with one hand as she spun around and retried an e-gun with the other.
“Boss, I got someone here you’ll want to see.” It was just Dutch, one of her foot soldiers. Loyal, but he’d been hit in the head too many times.
“Close the fucking door.” He did, and Harlow stuffed her weapon back under her waistband. “What’d you forget, Dutch?”
His face went soft like taffy on a hot afternoon. He wasn’t a thinking man, but by God he was trying. “Knock,” he said, finally.
“One of these days, Dutch, you’re going to forget and you’ll end up with a nanofoam slug making a tunnel through your forehead at Mach 10.”
“Sorry, Miss Harlow.”
“Don’t apologize to me; I’m not the one who’s going to have to clean the mess.” He smiled at that. Sort of a sick reaction, really. “Who did you bring me?”
“He has the eyes.”
Harlow straightened up at that; felt two inches taller. “Oh, good boy, Dutch. Let’s go see.” They walked out of the container and onto the deck of the Boudica’s Daughter II, anchored just outside Port Klang. Wasn’t really her ship, but she’d made arrangements to use it for a while.
Her guards stood around a man—a kid, really. Maybe 19. Old enough; his eyes were done growing.
Harlow walked right up to him and grabbed his face between her hands. He tried to say something and she pressed harder. His eyes widened with surprise and fear, and she saw it was true for herself.
Bilateral coloboma. Asymmetric. Jackpot.
“In there,” she said, gesturing another container. A couple of her guards pulled the kid inside and shut the door while he protested. Her remaining guards took positions outside the door. Harlow returned to her own container and flipped the virtuals back on. This time they showed a live feed from the high-end security cameras installed in the second container. She saw her two guards standing, facing each other with their arms out in front of them like Frankenstein’s monsters, holding onto…nothing. The kid was fucking invisible.
The advanced AI in modern security systems largely relied on iris scans to identify people, not just against known databases, but also against fakes. Hackers often tried to overwhelm security AIs by flooding them with ghosts: virtual people generated artificially. But the ghosts had a flaw. Their pupils were never round. They were round enough to fool a human, but not an AI. There were always artifacts. So the security systems filtered out the ghosts. Ignored them.
But this kid was something special. A genetic defect gave him two misshaped pupils. Security cameras thought he was a ghost and automatically eliminated him. You could get away with a lot when you were invisible.
All Harlow needed was his eyes.